Doggin’ Phoenix: Where To Hike With Your Dog When In The Valley Of The Sun

Encanto Park, in the heart of downtown Phoenix is an oasis for people and dogs, named for the Spanish word for “enchanted.” Acquisition of the 222 acres began in 1934 through donations and land buys. You can walk your dog in the park at 15th Avenue and Encanto Boulevard around the palm-studded lagoon where the sternwheeler “Encanto Queen” plies the gentle waters.

South Mountain Park in southern Phoenix is actually three mountain ranges – the Ma
Ha Tauk, Gila and Guadalupe – where prospectors probed for riches in the early
1900s. The city of Phoenix acquired 13,000 acres of land in 1924 for just
$17,000 from the federal government and the park was on its way to becoming the
largest municipal park in America.

The National Park Service also did the bulk of the development work when the
Civilian Conservation Corps carved out trails and picnic areas and built many of the
park facilities.

This is pure Sonoran desert hiking – open, rocky and hot. Canine hikers are advised
to stick to dog-friendly South Mountain’s shorter trails and there are plenty to
choose from of less than two miles. Bring more water than you’ll think you need and
pay close attention to your dog’s paw pads. The rocks and packed dirt can get
blisteringly hot.

Once common-sense precautions in the desert are accounted for, the going at
South Mountain is suitable for most any dog. The highest point you can reach on
foot is 2,330-foot Dobbins Lookout and steep climbs are spread out on the park
trails.

The National Trail cuts through the spine of the park for more than 14 miles and
can be used for loops. It moves though chiseled rocks and crags amidst a desert
environment of more than 300 species of plants.

Expect to adopt a pack mentality when taking your dog to South Mountain Park –
more than three million hikers sample its trails each year. To reach South Mountain
Park go south on Central Avenue to the park entrance.

copyright 2006